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Charting the Path to New Zoning

How the Comprehensive Plan goals, policies and map relate to new zoning

Charting the Path to New Zoning HandoutThe proposed draft of the Comprehensive Plan is currently under review by the public and the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). The draft Comprehensive Plan Map proposes land use changes for a number of properties across the city, and many people are eager to talk about the zoning details for those places — particularly in mixed use zones and around campus institutions.

The Comprehensive Plan establishes goals and policies and maps to guide subsequent land use activities. The Comp Plan Map assigns land use designations to every property — but not zones. That’s a separate step in the process.

The land use map identifies what the land can generally be used for (e.g., residential, employment, open space). Should it be light industrial or manufacturing? Multi-family or single-family? Specific rules about how buildings can look or how tall they can be are developed once these general land uses are defined and mapped. The zoning code addresses the details; height, setbacks, floor-area ratio (FAR) and other design characteristics for each property.

Q. So how can we consider new zoning code while we’re still deciding on general land uses?

A. Land use designations and zoning are under different parts of the State of Oregon’s Periodic Review requirement.

  • Task 4 of Periodic Review (goals, policies and land use map) is currently before the PSC. It lays out the guidelines for long- and short-term land use decisions. If you’re interested in high-level direction about issues such as sustainability, equity, public involvement and general development direction in different areas of the city, this is the process you want to focus on.
  • Task 5 (zoning code and zoning map amendments) will come before the PSC in 2015. Task 5 projects (e.g., Mixed-Use Zones Project, Institutional Zoning Project) will be the first to apply the new Comprehensive Plan to on-the-ground rules. If you’re interested in issues like FAR for mixed use development in neighborhood hubs, this is where you can focus your attention.

To complete the Comprehensive Plan process in the time allotted by the state, staff began working on goals and policies (Task 4) last year and implementation projects (Task 5) this year, while Task 4 was — and still is — underway.

This dual work stream means that some information is available on the general approach to zoning code provisions (Task 5) even as the PSC is still deliberating the policy intent and map designations as part of Task 4. Written comments on the goals, policies and land use map were taken until March 13, 2015.

The overlapping sequence will help ensure important zoning details are available before City Council votes on the recommended policies and map in June/July 2015, the state-imposed deadline for adoption of Task 4.

Zoning code and zoning map changes to implement the new Comprehensive Plan will be subject to additional public hearings before final action by the PSC and City Council. The state-imposed deadline for completing the related Task 5 is December 2015.

What’s next?

Task 4 Timeline

All hearings and work sessions are open to the public. Please confirm exact times and topics by checking the Planning and Sustainability Commission calendar.

Date/Time Event/Milestone Address Notes

March 24, April 14, May 12

PSC Work Sessions (no testimony)

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

These meetings are open to the public. Check PSC calendar to confirm details.

April 28 to May 11

Tentative release date for Draft Recommended Plan reflecting PSC directions

  This is a draft of the PSC’s eventual recommendation to City Council,  presented for their review. This staff-prepared draft reflects initial direction from the PSC in previous work sessions, and staff recommendations that the PSC has tentatively accepted.  The PSC will have approximately a month to review it prior to a final vote.  They may make further amendments at the May 26 or June 9 work sessions.   

April 28

3:00 p.m.

Public Hearing on Revised Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA)

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

This is a state-required report defining employment-related land needs and describing how the plan accommodates projected job growth through 2035.

May 12

12:30 p.m.

Public Hearing on Growth Scenario Report Addendum

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

The 2013 Growth Scenarios Report described different potential growth patterns, and explored how those choices achieve the Portland Plan Measures of Success. This 2015 addendum will evaluate the draft plan against those same metrics. Essentially, this hearing is about determining if the plan will meet the goals we set, such as housing affordability, carbon emissions reduction, transportation mode shifts and tree canopy.   

May 26 or June 9 

Final PSC Work Session and Recommendation (vote)

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

Notification will be sent to property owners whose property is proposed to change, and notification will be sent to everyone who submitted legal testimony on the proposed Zoning Code. Check PSC calendar to confirm details closer to the date.

Summer/Fall 2015

City Council public hearings and decision (vote)


Check CPU project calendar to confirm details closer to the date.

Task 5 (Implementation) Timelines

Both the Mixed Use and Institutional Campus zoning projects are currently working with advisory committees to digest background research and define the concepts that will ultimately be brought to the PSC. Both of these projects will also inform a Zoning Map Amendment Package that will advance in 2015. All hearings and work sessions are open to the public. Please confirm exact times and topics by checking the Planning and Sustainability Commission calendar.

Time Event/Milestone Notes
November 2014 Release of initial Mixed Use Zones Preliminary Concept Proposal Identify/name the palette of proposed new zones, provide some basic parameters like anticipated FAR and height limits, and other key parameters.
Spring 2015 (tentative) Release of Mixed Use Concept Report and Institutional Campus Concept Report  
Spring 2015 (tentative) Release of Proposed Zoning Code for Mixed Use and Institutional Campus Zones  
Summer 2015 (tentative) Release of Draft Zoning Maps, including Institutional Campus and Mixed Use Zones Notification will be sent to property owners whose property is proposed to change, and notification will be sent to everyone who submitted legal testimony.
July 2015 (tentative) PSC Public Hearings and Recommendation on Institutional Campus Code Check PSC calendar to confirm details closer to the date.
July/August 2015 (tentative) PSC Public Hearings and Recommendation on Mixed Use Code Notification will be sent to property owners whose property is proposed to change, and notification will be sent to everyone who submitted legal testimony. Check PSC calendar to confirm details closer to the date.
September-November 2015 (tentative) PSC Public Hearings on the Proposed Zoning Maps Check PSC calendar to confirm details closer to the date.
Fall 2015/Winter 2016 (tentative) City Council Public Hearing on the Proposed Zoning Maps Check CPU project calendar to confirm details closer to the date.

Set up a waste collection system that works for your household

Whether you are new to Portland, a longtime resident or often host out-of-town guests, these tips will help you get the right materials in the right place

Recycling collection systemHere’s a time-tested question: Who’s in charge of taking out the garbage in your household? Does this job also involve the recycling and composting containers inside your home?

Make recycling as easy as throwing away

Much of the activity related to recycling and composting doesn’t happen at the curb. It happens in our kitchens, family rooms, home offices, bedrooms and bathrooms. Strategies that create easy ways to separate waste right where it’s generated in the house will increase the chance that things get to the right container out at the curb.

Walk through your home and ask yourself if it is as easy to recycle in each room as it is to throw things away? Are there certain recyclable items that are getting thrown away in some rooms but not others?

One principal to good recycling is to provide a recycling container everywhere where there is a garbage can.

Even in the most motivated households, if you only have a garbage can in place, items that could be recycled may get tossed in the garbage. If you only have a recycling container in place, garbage might end up in your recycling.

Do a quick system check

It is also important to periodically check the two containers to ensure that waste materials are in the right one. People often make decisions about where to throw things away by looking into the container and seeing what is already there rather than reading signs or asking questions. One person’s mistake can quickly become a household norm.

Composting is easy, too

When it comes to composting, food scraps are mainly in the kitchen, so find and use a kitchen compost container that you like and place it where it works best for your household. When choosing a container, consider where you will keep it, whether you’ll use optional kitchen container liners, how often you fill your container, and how you will keep it fresh and clean. 

It is important to also create a space in your kitchen or another agreed upon area where all materials can be collected before being taken to the curb and emptied into their individual containers outside. If you want to collect non-curbside materials, like miscellaneous plastics (bags, caps, lids, Styrofoam), determine a place to put these items aside to deliver to a recycling depot.

Whether you are new to Portland, a longtime resident or often host out-of-town guests, use the start of the new year to get the right materials in the right place.

Want a detailed list of what goes in – or must stay out – of your curbside containers?
Find information online or download a guide in 10 languages. And remember if an item is not on the “yes” recycling or composting list, the best place for it is in the garbage.

Need help remembering garbage day?
Sign up for free email reminders at

Fix-It Fair connects you to community resources

Join Be Cart Smart and Resourceful PDX at this free event to get tips on using your roll carts, and how to save more and live more at home

Attendee at Fix-It Fair exhibit hall

The next Fix-It Fair of the season is on Saturday, January 24 from 9:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Rosa Parks Elementary School, 8960 N Woolsey Ave.

Fix-It Fair offers money-saving solutions and educational opportunities for you and your family, while emphasizing healthy, environmentally friendly homes.

Workshops are offered throughout the day at the top of the hour.

The Resource Guide features many Fix-It Fair partners that are part of the exhibit hall and that offer their expertise on a variety of topics throughout the day:

  • Home and personal health
  • Home repair and utility savings
  • Sound money and safe home
  • Yard and garden

Join Be Cart Smart at this free event to learn tips on what goes in the garbage, recycling and composting roll carts, and what must stay out. And talk to Resourceful PDX to give and get ideas for making simple changes in everyday choices to save more and live more!

From BPS Director Susan Anderson: Toward a more prosperous, healthy, resilient and equitable community

Our work at BPS is trending with others around the globe.

Reflecting on what’s happened around the world this past year — two themes related to our work stand out for me.

1st - Climate change is out front on the world stage. From John Kerry to Ban Ki-moon to Pope Francis, world leaders are calling for action to reduce carbon emissions and prepare for climate change.

2nd - This is “the year the people stood up.” (The Guardian) From Eastern Europe to the Middle East, Africa and here in America, people stood up for freedom, basic human rights, economic parity and racial equity.

Climate change and equity, along with prosperity and healthy neighborhoods, are at the core of our mission here at BPS. These issues are global in nature, but we have the tools to take action and make a difference locally. Hundreds of volunteers, partners and expert advisors help us craft long-range plans, regulatory codes and market-based tools, and provide information and hands-on technical assistance to advance our citywide goals. Here are some BPS highlights from 2014:

From Trash to Treasure

Portland’s combined recycling and composting rate is 70 percent!  And, it continues to be one of the highest in the nation. Eight out of ten Portland homes — more than 110,000 in all — are creating rich compost for healthier farms and gardens by adding food scraps to their green composting roll carts. Portlanders also have reduced garbage going to landfill by 36 percent since the food scrap collection program started three years ago. Thanks to the dedication of our Solid Waste and Recycling Team and their outstanding customer service, Portlanders rate their curbside compost, recycling and garbage service more highly than almost any other City service.                        

But we couldn’t do all this without you! Our Master Recycler Program is a corps of more than 1,300 volunteers, who help Portland and other jurisdictions in the region promote waste prevention, toxics reduction, recycling and composting.

Innovative Approaches

Our Sustainable Outreach and Events Team continues to come up with great ideas to help more Portlanders save money and energy. Programs like Be Cart Smart, Your Sustainable City and Resourceful PDX reached tens of thousands of residents at community events all over the city.

This was another successful year of “takin’ it to the streets,” with a total of 57 neighborhood cleanup events. Our outreach team worked with community partners, nonprofits and neighborhood associations to provide community members a place to recycle, reuse and turn their trash into treasure with onsite swapping and sharing.

Sustainability at Work had another great year of bringing free assessments, trainings, presentations, tools and resources to more than 1,000 local businesses. And 40 more businesses were certified and recognized for their sustainability achievements.

BPS piloted new approaches to bringing clean energy to the community with Solar Forward. This new effort offers Portlanders a way to support the development of solar energy systems on public buildings like community centers, schools and libraries.

Be Prepared

Our newly adopted Climate Change Preparation Strategy includes policies and actions that support individuals and families who are most vulnerable to projected impacts, particularly heat, poor air quality and flooding. The strategy is the product of extensive research and analysis by BPS’ Research and Policy Team and close coordination with our sister agencies across the city and Multnomah County.

The team is now preparing for the release of the 2015 Climate Action Plan, which includes a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2035. The plan will showcase new research and infuse equity throughout the actions and policies. This was done with the assistance of a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of climate experts, environmental justice advocates and a diversity of community members.

This was the first of our projects and programs to take a formal, close look at the equity impacts of our goals and action items. We are still on a learning curve. Applying an equity lens to future climate impacts required some new levels of demographic modeling and mapping. It helped us to envision the nexus of different populations by race, income and age. The result is a strategy that more closely considers Portland’s most vulnerable populations.

Big Picture Plans

In addition to the Climate Action Plan, we have been continuing our effort to update the City’s 1980 Comprehensive Plan. The new 2015 Comprehensive Plan draft is now with the Planning and Sustainability Commission for review and deliberation. The new plan will guide the city’s growth and development over the next 20 years, while creating complete neighborhoods and sustainable communities so that more people have access to jobs, transit, affordable housing, parks, schools, libraries, restaurants, coffee and, of course, beer.

More Innovation

Thanks to our district liaisons, we have strong ties to the community both within the neighborhood associations and among other community groups. We built on those relationships with a new online Map App from the GIS Team, which had more than 35,000 visits since its launch over the summer. This interactive tool lets residents zoom into their neighborhoods to understand any proposed land use changes and then make and view other people’s comments online.

As the Comprehensive Plan moves forward into implementation, we’ll rely on our code writers to translate the land use map into regulations. Early implementation projects for the Comprehensive Plan include the Mixed Use Zones and Campus Institutions projects.


We continue to champion big ideas to create great places throughout Portland. Much of our work focuses on creating healthy connected neighborhoods in key Centers and Corridors.  

We are partnering with Metro and TriMet to create an even better transit and civic corridor along the Powell-Division alignment, especially for people living in East Portland. And we’re developing a Scenic Resources Inventory to ensure we preserve the vistas that we cherish.  

While we work at the citywide level on the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, we’re also updating a long-range plan to guide Portland’s Central City through 2035 with a focus on making it a center of innovation and exchange. Quadrant-specific plans provide distinct strategies that balance the demands for new jobs, housing, transportation and vibrant walkable neighborhoods from Goose Hollow to China Town to the Central Eastside and the Lloyd District.

The Central City Team will soon take the West Quadrant Plan to City Council for adoption. On the other side of the river, the Southeast Quadrant Pan is underway, with guidance from business and neighborhood stakeholders, and the assistance of the Urban Land Institute’s 2014 Daniel Rose Fellowship.


Portland received the C40 Climate Leadership Sustainable Communities Award and President Obama designated Portland a “Climate Action Champion.” Both of these awards position us to establish national and international partnerships to accelerate the work ahead. The Energy Foundation provided extensive resources to help Chinese cities learn from Portland and allowed staff to share technical expertise related to Portland’s Climate Action Plan. In addition, Denmark sponsored two staff as visiting scholars at Aalborg University, and the Smart Cities Expo World Congress in Barcelona sponsored our technical GIS staff to share the innovative Map App with cities from around the world.

What’s next?

2015 promises to be a turning point. The big vision plans will be done: Climate Action Plan, Comprehensive Plan and Central City 2035. Now we tackle the details. For example, we'll develop new specific code changes for mixed use, multi- and single-dwelling zones as well as other improvements, including  changes to the code to reflect the new Central City 2035 plan. We're proposing an Energy Performance Score for larger commercial buildings. And we'll enhance recycling for renters, and continue to help thousands of residents and businesses live, work and play more sustainably. 

As we launch into a busy new year, we join millions of people from around the world who are working hard to create local solutions for a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world.


Susan Anderson


City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability